Sunday December 4th 2016

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Mixing methadone with alcohol

Methadone provides relief for patients who do not respond to non-narcotic pain medicines and has also been used for decades to treat individuals who suffer from addiction and dependence on heroin and narcotic pain medicines. However, methadone may become hazardous when used with alcohol, other opioids (opium-like substances) or illicit drugs that depress the central nervous system.

So what exactly happens when you mix alcohol with methadone? What are the consequences of mixing the two?  We review here and invite your questions about methadone or getting help for addiction problems with methadone at the end.

Methadone and alcohol effects

Taking methadone and alcohol TOGETHER is dangerous because of the way these substances affect a person’s body. Methadone and alcohol are both classified as depressants, which can hinder reflexes, slow heart rate, lower blood pressure, and restrict breathing. When the two substances are taken together, the effects are amplified.  How does each of these substances work individually?

Methadone is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics. Methadone works via the central nervous system by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to specific symptoms, including pain and cravings for harder drugs.  While methadone is mainly used in the treatment of harder opiate addiction by helping to address cravings, it still has a central nervous system depressant effect on the entire body.  Methadone’s duration of action should be taken into account anytime you are using this Rx medication and reaching for a drink.

Similarly, alcohol affects the brain and central nervous systme as well. During period of intoxication, alcohol can cause walking difficulties, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, impaired memory. So clearly, alcohol affects the brain. A person who drinks heavily over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after he or she achieves sobriety.

Dangers of mixing methadone and alcohol

Methadone and alcohol are two substances that should not be used together. The effects of mixing methadone and alcohol can be profound. Methadone increases the effects of alcohol in some people, so taking the two together might make you become drunk more quickly and may inhibit your motor skills. Further, because alcohol is a nervous system depressant, taking it with methadone can lead to dangerous complications, including respiratory problems, low blood pressure, a weak heart rate, and coma. Taking both methadone and alcohol at the same time can also increase the risk of an overdose.

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Methadone and alcohol overdose

Like any other drug, especially any narcotic, methadone can be purposefully or unintentionally abused and present serious health risks when taken with other drugs. Overdose can happen when more than the prescribed dose is taken, when methadone is injected or when methadone is taken with other drugs, such as alcohol or minor tranquillizers. When an individual takes methadone and alcohol together, he or she can experience a wide range of physical and emotional problems.

Overdose of methadone and alcohol can cause the following side effects:

  • anxiety
  • body aches
  • dizziness or faintness
  • fainting
  • hallucinations
  • nausea
  • palpitations
  • respiratory and heart problems
  • shortness of breath
  • unconsciousness
  • vomiting

Alcohol can also speed up the methadone withdrawal process, which can cause an individual severe physical pain and mental stress that may lead them back to using more dangerous opiates. At worst, mixing methadone and alcohol can lead to death.

Methadone and alcohol deaths

Most cases of overdose and death related to methadone intake involved mixing methadone with another depressant drug, especially alcohol, against doctor’s orders. Alcohol and methadone are central nervous system (CNS) depressants and taking them simultaneously increases the cumulative depressive effects on the brain’s respiratory centers. This could lead to respiratory depression and coma followed by death.

Is it safe to drink on methadone?

Alcohol and methadone simply do not mix. In fact, alcohol taken with any substance of abuse is a leading cause of drug-related deaths. Even a modest amount of alcohol combined with methadone can slow methadone metabolism and make the drinker dangerously intoxicated. The person may pass out and choke to death on his/her own vomit.

Mixing methadone and alcohol questions

Still have questions about mixing methadone with alcohol? Please leave your questions in the comments section below. We do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

REFERENCE SOURCES: DPT: How to use methadone safely
DAO: Alcohol interaction with other drugs
MedlinePlus: Methadone
NSW Government: Health
CAMH: Methadone and other drugs

Photo credit: Wiki Media Commons

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59 Responses to “Mixing methadone with alcohol
christina
4:52 am December 9th, 2014

What does the mixture of alcohol and methadone do to the brain over a period of a year or more. Do these people’s brains function normally? Confusion , right from wrong, truths and untruths?????

Laura
8:09 am February 2nd, 2015

Where can I find statistics onmethadone alcohol related deaths? Does the combination make the person nasty?

jim
6:16 pm February 23rd, 2015

I take 5 to 10mg of methadone 3 times per day for pain and I drink 3 to 4 alaconic drinks per day. Is this a problem? Jim

4:26 pm March 2nd, 2015

Hello Jim. Mixing methadone and alcohol can increase the nervous system’s side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, difficulty concentrating, and impairment in thinking and judgment. In severe cases, low blood pressure, respiratory distress, fainting, coma, or even death may occur. Mixing these substances is definitely not safe and can be risky and dangerous in long or short terms of use.

Kristie
7:47 pm May 1st, 2015

My boyfriend has been going to a methadone clinic for almost seven years and is currently prescribed 200mg/day. He has been drinking about a liter/day of vodka, for around two months straight. His last dose of methadone was 6 days ago and he has been trying to continue drinking vodka but everything he ingests he vomits back up. He hasn’t held any food or water down for two days and can’t walk by himself. He keeps asking me to help him get into the bath tub and I can hardly hold him up. As I type this, I know how extremely stupid it sounds that I have not brought him to the hospital or called 911. The only thing keeping me from doing that is he said he will go to the methadone clinic tomorrow… And he can talk and knows which day of the week it is. I just need some input on what could happen if I wait till tomorrow. I know he needs help and I want to make sure I am doing the right thing.

2:03 pm May 4th, 2015

Hi Kristie. He is going through severe withdrawal from stopping methadone cold turkey. Abrupt cessation causes stress and adverse effects that are risky. I’m worried that he faces great risk of dehydration since he cannot hold any liquids down and on top of that is vomiting. Please take him to the hospital as soon as possible, he needs medical care.

Ajaiwant
11:51 am May 20th, 2015

What’s worse, people who are addicted or dependent rarely seek help right away, and their loved ones are also often slow to intervene, too. We see this over and over again, not only with celebrities but in people who come into treatment programs.

Lynette
2:21 am May 26th, 2015

I been taking methadone for. 2 years i was at 110mg now at 59mg i drink a pint a day with lil wine how bad is that i don’t feel any if the symptoms above i know i need to stop but working 12hr a day outside that’s my lil relief too fall asleep

4:18 pm June 5th, 2015

Hi Lynette. Do you drink a pint of water a day? If so, you are probably tolerant to the methadone by now, which is why you experience any of the effects explained in the article. It is not, however, a habit you are recommended to continue doing.

Ashley
1:26 am June 22nd, 2015

what if I take my methadone dose (50ml) in the morning and then in the evening have a couple of drinks (whether is be beer, wine or liquor and liqueurs and milk and/ice cream) in the evening? (I live in the eastern time zone) so it’s around 7:23 right now.

I took my methadone when I woke up today at around 6am/7
And now I’m having a couple of drinks. I had one beer and a mix of coffee,liqueurs and milk (I’m out of ice cream right now)

So……can you please help me understand further?
Sincerely
Ashley

10:37 am June 22nd, 2015

Hi Ashley. Methadone’s long half life is what’s problematic. I’d suggest that you speak with you prescribing doctor about drinking while on methadone. Did you get a medical OK before drinking?

Joseph
8:15 pm August 30th, 2015

Hi; is taking a small dose of methadone (5mg) with an alcoholic drink a potential risk or not of a big deal? thanks

Dene
7:14 pm September 6th, 2015

My husband is on methadone for pain management but continues to drink can this affect his mood

Tonya
1:53 pm September 28th, 2015

Hey, I take methadone to kick pain killers. I take 105mg in the morning, every morning. I have started drinking 4 16oz cans of Bud light clamatoe’s. I notice when I get done I’m sleepy as heck and have to go to bed and can sleep from 7pm to 6am in the morning without waking up for nothing. Very sleepy the next day and irritated. What is going on? Please help. Plus on some depression meds too. Didn’t ask the clinic because of course they are going to say don’t do nothing else. I have a very addicting personality. So I have to see for myself. But I know I don’t feel good at all! HELP?

Michael
9:47 pm October 7th, 2015

Hi my name is Michael and I have been on methadone for about 4 months in at 75 mg and I don’t drink because ever my body scares the shit out of me is it ok if I drink one beer because I really need one right now

tricia
4:29 am October 10th, 2015

I can take 5mg of methadone and drink a bottle of wine and not feel a thing, I have drank wine and did occupying and not feel nothing. Why

Patrick
3:02 am October 15th, 2015

My girl has been going to meth clinic for over a year when she gets off work everthing is fine than she starts pounding vodka. She than goes from peter pan to jack the ripper verbally abusive than passess out i than doesn’t remember nothing the day i been with her 20 yrs can’ take it

curtis
6:46 am October 20th, 2015

Kristie i would like to talk to you

nope...
9:01 am October 31st, 2015

I have recently become friends with an older woman who quuckly became i goid friend… We both seemed to have the same problem dispite the age and lifestyle differences…. She is about 20yrs my senior… We lost touch for a bit… And when i seen her again she looked sick with the flu… A long flu… Then i seen her again… And found out she was kickin methidone at home and using liquer to dull her pain from it… I had someone very close to me die recently from mixing the two… But not during withdrawl from methodne… It s hard fir me to walk away from my friend during this time…i wasnt able to help once… So the need to help is very strong… I just need to know what im up against and the best course of action to take…can u give me any advice to help her?

Jacqueline
11:49 pm November 2nd, 2015

Is the combination of alcohol and methadone dangerous when NOT taken at the same time? Like, if a person is receiving methadone in the early morning and then has beer at lunch time or wine in the evening is that dangerous?

4:51 pm November 3rd, 2015

Hi Jacqueline. It is not recommended to use alcohol or any products that contain alcohol at all while you are receiving treatment with methadone.

Michael
8:29 pm November 7th, 2015

Yea we know it says it’s not safe to drink but if we take our dose a 6 am can somebody tell that I am ok to have 2 beers by 6 pm without having symptoms or problems cause I need to drink bad all I won’t it two beers am I safe or no

11:13 pm November 9th, 2015

Hello Nope. You certainly learned the hard way what the effects of mixing both, alcohol and drugs are. You should definitely help your friend. Here’s a link with some useful advises How to help a friend with addiction

Please, if you have any questions feel free to contact us.

8:21 pm November 10th, 2015

Hi Michael. You should be aware that the drug dose stays in your system longer than its effects. So, it is not recommended to drink alcohol when you are on any kind of drug treatment. You may cause severe problems to your health.

Glenn
7:51 pm November 24th, 2015

I am on methodone maintenance. I would like to know if my drinking of a malt beer alchol, delays the onset of my methodone dose.

12:10 pm November 27th, 2015

Hello Glenn. I think that probably drinking delays the onset of methadone. Anyway, you shouldn’t mix methadone with alcohol, you put yourself at great risk.

Nathan
1:31 am December 11th, 2015

I drink a quarter bottle of of vodka a day and I take 50 ml of methadone per day,does the amount of alcohol I drink make my me withdrawal quicker from my methadone?????

Shannon
6:31 am December 16th, 2015

Hi Ive had 2 back surgeries the last was a failed spinal fusion L1-S2. I do have an addictive personality always have. Ive been on everything oxycontin which worked but now my insurance (since I am on Medicare because ive been awarded disability ) wont cover it they put me on morphine which does nothing for me. Also been on Phentanyl which im allergic to. Tizandine, Gabapentin and Xanax, Cymbalta current. Now they wanna take the morphine away and put me on Methadone which scares me to death because of all the negative things ive read. I dont drink hardly ever but about ever 6 months i like to go out and have a good time. I scared of gaining weight which ive read is a big side affect. And idk if its worth it, although I have no life now! Please help with any input!

Andrew
2:22 am December 23rd, 2015

I just drink light beer, and I just sip it I usually drink I bud light in 2 hours, which is 4 to 5 beers in about 8 hours, I never get drunk, EVER, because I don’t like the feeling. My question is:if I take a small doses of methadone in the morning, can I still drink 4 to5 beers at night. Please reply with the best of your knowledge, please incliude (if possible) the minimum dosage of methadone for chronic pain and the amount of light beer I can have without being in harm’s way, I don’t want to die, thank you so much, Andrew!

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:46 pm December 23rd, 2015

Hi, Nathan. Alcohol is not used to ease withdrawal. As said in the article, mixing methadone with alcohol may cause serious damage to your health.

dianne
2:30 am December 27th, 2015

my son was drinking alcohol and someone gave him methedone 12 hours later he was dead the lad said he only had a 100mls was this an overdose or was it because he had been drinking as well he didnt use methedone at all.thankyou

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
7:12 pm January 4th, 2016

Hi, Dianne. I’m really sorry for your loss. I’d suggest that you speak with a toxicologist or a coroner or another medical professional about your concerns. We’re not able to provide you with a qualified response. I’m really sorry…

Daniel
6:18 am January 15th, 2016

My roommate drinks and takes methadone, it’s clear he is impaired and becomes argumentative and does not seem right, like he is in a daze. Then does not remember our conversations, is it possible to report this? Or is he doomed to never get over his addiction?

Sally
7:30 am January 16th, 2016

My son was going daily to a methadone clinic in Evanston Illinois, he was given 160 mg of methadone daily, every morning. He was also drinking every night hard alcohol. My son died on January 8th at 6:54 pm. My question is, wouldn’t they be required to do a urine test or blood test before these people with addictions as my son was an alcoholic, before giving the methadone. When they are given this drug, shouldn’t a doctor be monitoring these people. My son was very jondus, and he had pancreatitis, was very sick that morning and was still given the methadone. I can not believe that a doctor looked at him and just gave him such a large dose of methadone and did not call an ambulance to take him to a hospital instead he was given the methadone and let leave. before he even got out of the parking lot he passed out, when he came to, he drove part way home and passed out on the side of the road and then he wakes up and made it home and died that night. It took him 4 hours to drive home a 45 minute drive. I would think they would have had some type of protocol for this medicine or policies in place for better care of these patients that have addictions.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
8:51 pm January 24th, 2016

Hi, Sally. I’m really sorry for your loss…It’s terrible to hear about your loss, and I express my sincere sympathy to you and your family. You are in my prayers…Also, I agree with you that urine/blood tests should be required before, but also patients can tell the doctor about their addictions before s/he prescribes anything.

Richie
3:55 am February 10th, 2016

Hi been in treatment for 9 months on 75ml MTD not used any other illicit drug for that time, I started drinking = 18 cans 7.5% cider, now down to 3 cans a day, I’ve been on 2x week pick up, since August because I’ve not stopped totally they are threatening daily supervised,move managed the MTD and reduced alcohol by can a week and had no problems, what are risks, I know you don’t know my full clinical history,my drinking nay started as a bit of substitution when I stopped illicit heroin, I feel they’re being risk adverse given my history, I’ve not overdosed,may drinking has been steadily decreasing and no illicit use, I seek your thoughts

rmdiana
7:11 am February 18th, 2016

I’m very concerned about my husband. He’s been on methadone for 4 yrs now, to treat opiate addiction. He takes 100 MG every morning. He drinks a lot of beer, sometimes drinking his 1st beer as early as 9 or 10 a.m. Once he starts, he continues drinking until he basically passes out in early evening, 10-12 beers daily. He then wakes up at night and takes 3 Tylenol PMs to go back to sleep. He can’t keep a meal down, he throws up immediately. But he keeps several sweet snacks in bed, and wakes up all night eating them and going right back to sleep. I’m afraid he’s killing himself

Darrian
8:42 am February 28th, 2016

Hello my husband has been on methadone for six years and is at 120 and he has been drinking to night how do I know if he’s ok

Dustin
4:19 pm March 22nd, 2016

I understand taking that mixing these two drugs is very dangerous. Im curious if you take your methadone dose at 7 am each day would having a few drinks 10 hrs later be just as dangerous? I am currently on methadone and recently had a drink several hrs after my dose. After reading this I think the best way for me to go about this is to completely cut alcohol out if i’m going to continue going to the clinic each morning. However I am curious to know the risks after 10+ hrs? Are they the same as if you would take methadone and alcohol together? Thank you for your time.

Addie
2:28 am March 26th, 2016

I take methadone daily on top of heavily drinking, mertszapine, seraquil, gabapentin, and benedryl Dailey. I already suffer low blood pressure…. Is this causing me to bruise easy?

Realitystruck
11:12 am April 5th, 2016

Someone very close to me died this January from what we thought was an alcohol overdose. Autopsy results showed she actually died from a combination of liquid methadone and alcohol. She had 7 times the legal limit of alcohol in her blood. She was 27. It was her first time using the methadone, guess she thought it would help her sleep or something. She supposedly went in someone’s dresser drawer and took it thinking it would help her sleep.

Don
5:15 am April 6th, 2016

I am at the end of a 5 + years of methadone misery and I’m also a alcoholic . And it SUCKS. Getting my life back is the goal

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:31 pm April 7th, 2016

Hi Realitystruck. I’m really sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your story, hope others will get the message and understand what mixing methadone with alcohol may do.

Calub
1:08 am April 17th, 2016

Ive read all the blogs and have been through most of it with drinking and taken opioids and now on Methadone due to my liver condition. I do not drink a lick anymore after a month long coma and ruptured appendix due to drinking and the opioid certainly didn’t help. I almost died in the hospital twice due to respitory problems and the bloating of all my organs would have killed me in a matter of hours if I hadn’t gotten an ambulance called for me. I am great now but still dream I’m drunk in my sleep but I am happy now sober and taking methadone. I drank hard liquer and did even more to achieve withdraw comfort. Methadone is the harest thing I ever detoxed off of. liquid methadone that is. I wont do it cold turkey again. I was young and never knew it could kill me. I am full of Info if anyone needs some pointers but the early am drinking, liquid methadone and passing out and not remembering. Your headed for disaster so do something before something happens that you cant get back or cant fix. like death or your liver and kidneys…. Be smart guys!!!

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:13 pm April 19th, 2016

Thanks for sharing, Calub. Hope others will find your post inspirational.

Jenniferdwooten1980@gmail.com
7:30 am May 8th, 2016

Can I go to a treatment facility and detox off of school and still take my methodone

Scott
12:03 am May 19th, 2016

Hi my name is Scott. I’ve read all the questions and can see that drinking is very dangerous while on Methadone. I started Methadone Management two days ago, 30mg per day. I had been hooked on oxycodone for the past 3 years. As well as drinking every single night. My methadone doses at 6:15 am. I work until 4:30 pm. I feel that the effects of Methadone wear off halfway through my work day. And I feel like I’m going crazy not being able to drink as it was always part of my daily routine. I’m wondering if I can drink non-alcoholic beer…? They told me not to consume alcohol at the clinic and that it would show up in a urine test. Non-alcoholic beer still contains alcohol, less than 0.5%. Is it possible I can drink N/A beer? I feel it would greatly help me as I feel it’s less of an alcohol problem and more just a mental problem because it’s just something that I am so used to doing that I am forced to stop.

Nope yep
4:40 pm June 3rd, 2016

Ive been taking 60mg of methadone and drinking 1/5 of hard liquor everyday for the past 8 months and im still alive.

Vanessa
7:17 am July 7th, 2016

So I go to a clinic for methadone I’m in 25mg been in the methadone program for 3 years not once have I drank past 3 years but sad to say I’ve missed drinking I just want to feel the buzz not trying to get extremely drunk any suggestions I know 25MG small dose but still

Katrina
11:44 pm July 18th, 2016

Hello,
I had a very scary experience yesterday I drunk a bottle and half of wine and then decided to smoke a joint, I felt like I was dying I could barely breathe and I had to lay down for a while and had to be driven home I was ok before the marijuana. I really want to kick methadone does anyone have any healthy suggestions?

Bamababe
11:33 pm July 29th, 2016

I drink a bottle of vodka a day pls I take140mgs of methadone a day I used to not wake up daily and feel withdraw but now I wake up every morning and feel like I’m gonna die my stomach is turning and sick feeling I even throw up most mornings before I can get more methadone is the alcohol effecting my Methadone affectivness

Bob
7:42 am September 18th, 2016

My dad who was a doctor recently died choking on his vomit in his sleep from methadone which he had been taking for a while and an increase intake of alcohol near the end of his life. He also had mild COPD and untreated sleep apena. Did all those combine to kill him or was it just the methadone and alcohol.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:05 pm September 23rd, 2016

Hi Bob. I’m really sorry for your loss. I’d suggest that you speak with a coroner another professional about your concern.

Furious Styles
6:41 am September 24th, 2016

Although this post is years old, I came across the piece searching for issues regarding methadone and alcohol…..
Unfortunately I have known more than a dozen people who have died whilst on methadone maintenance and drinking alcohol.
A brief history:
I am a 47 year old male. I was gravely wounded during Operation Desert Saber (first Gulf War) where I was hit from indirect fire, almost severing my leg, rupturing both ear drums and a collapsed lung. After multiple surgeries, I no longer even limp. However I have multiple rods screws pins in my leg that cause a great deal of pain, especially in the morning and when cold and wet.
I was on Percocet. After a few years, I required more and more medication. At some point I began to abuse them. The VA stepped in to help me and I ended up on Methadone maintenance.
I started at 30MG daily. Within a year I was taking 170MG a day and thus a slave to my addiction. I traded one addiction for another
After 3 years, I made the unwise choice to try and kick methadone cold turkey. I lasted 34 days. It was hell to say the least. In short, the VA decided to put me back on methadone but not methadone maintenance. I was given a reintroduction dose of 15 MG. I remember being furious that they would start me at such a miniscule dose given my history of 170MG daily. In the end, that low dose saved my life. I became extremely ill even with the 15 MG. Had they appeased me with a higher dose (I thought 85mg would be good) I would have surely died.
In any case, I made a deal with my primary VA physician to never allow me to ever request above 30MG. I now take 12 1/2MG daily (5mg in the morning / 2 1/2MG in the afternoon / 5mg in the evening)
My doses are miniscule and I am comfortable. Because I have such chronic leg pain, the methadone is administered as pain management rather than methadone maintenance.
I was never a big drinker at anytime. I certainly haven’t drank whilst on methadone.

From time to time I have considered a glass of wine or a beer, but being on methadone, I never did so.
My question is this, being I am on a miniscule dose of methadone, would a glass of wine or a beer prove fatal?

Shelly
10:38 pm October 3rd, 2016

I am tapering off methadone.started on 30 milligrams 6 months ago. I am presently on 20 milligrams. I have come down 10 milligrams in the last two months. I want off this drug. I’m planning on coming down 2 milligrams every two weeks. My question is what is the best way to do this? I don’t want to be in withdrawal to where I can’t deal with it.

jazzmin
7:06 pm October 5th, 2016

i was on 45ml iv gone down to 40ml and i swear i feel like complete shit i have nothing that can help me but alcohol 4% beers i cant take the legs thats the one thing that i just cant deal with and i have massive issues with anxiety im on something for that but i just cant stop thinking about the fact im down on my meth and that as the day goes on im going to be feeling it more and more its like i bring it on from my thoughts but i cant stop it becase im so scared of what is to come is it going to make me feel worse or will it take the edge off my drug worker as told me she cant put me up untill 13th of this month im on my 6th day of coming down but yesterday had to take about 2 ml maybe a little more coz i just couldn’t take it but i dont have anymore at home and i cant get anymore on the streets is there anything that can help i always have a really bad cold and a chest infection my doctor started me on anti bio tics yesterday for it also uped my anti deppresents yesterday as well anything ill try to help not feel what i am how long will this go on for??? am i back at stage 1 because i took a little bit of meth yesterday?? im so scared right now for the night and days to come… iv just turned 21 iv been on 45ml for just over a year now but have been on methadone for about 2and a half years but have never been on herion its a very long story im not just on methadone and my antidepressants and smoke weed thats it

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:08 pm October 6th, 2016

Hi Furious Styles. Please consider that mixing methadone with alcohol is dangerous and you put yourself at risk.

June
10:09 pm November 17th, 2016

I drink two little juice glasses of wine each night also I take 60mgs of methadone do I have anything to worry about. Will wait for your answer. Thank you.

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